On Innovation and getting offended

So, Steve Wozniak was in India. And he said something that offended so many people. If he had said the same thing about Americans when he was on his home turf, we would have agreed unanimously even when we haven’t directly dealt with Americans at all in our life. Time and again, the investors who come to India give similar views but we just get repeatedly offended but we don’t have any idea about how to address those things. Sometimes pride can be hurting, you know.
Now I am not going to talk about whether Mr. Wozniak is right or wrong. The Twitter and Facebook exploded about how he doesn’t know about the languages in India and the thousands of regional writers, about our singers, compositions etc. My question is simply this. Before we educate Mr. Wozniak about our writers and musicians, how much do we know about our own?

In past few months, I volunteered to encourage some brilliant writers and thinkers to work on their book, both fiction and non-fiction. It was very difficult to even make people put the pen on paper. Good thing that I have published two novels, I use myself as an example. “When I can write and sell books, you can do better.” Is what I would say. I really didn’t understand why they were so terrified. Finally, I made a friend publish a short story and then I understood why. Some of his friends posted a separate status like “Somebody suddenly wants to write a story now. What would happen to literary world” etc., This is the exact reason why we couldn’t show any innovative product. It is in our veins to compare any new work done in any field with the best in the field.

It is not just about writing. Anything that is different for that matter is shot down mercilessly. Our ecosystem does not approve of anything that is not approved by academic standards. Children are asked to go to various tuitions as soon as they come from school. If at all parents send their kids to some classes like dance or vocal, they want them to perform well immediately. They put pressure to perform better than their peers which don’t allow the practitioners to reflect on the art itself. When art becomes a competition, we get sub-standard, old wines.

Even the films and filmmaking is a competition now. It is always about box office numbers. If a director announces a movie, the fandom waits with bated breath to see who stars in the films to analyze the commercial viability. And the first three days collection is all it matters. Important thing like content, the way it presented doesn’t matter anymore. If anybody has written a film which is rooted in our culture but has an open ending, it will be compared to a movie which was taken in some other language and culture with an open ending and criticized. If the filmmaker thinks and executes the popular opinion, then he will be accused of plagiarism.

We do not have an ecosystem to breed artists, dreamers. How many of you know in your friend list or family who got married to full-time writers, singers or artists. They do all of that and do something else to bring food to the table. We have established that being creative or innovative will not bring food to the table. You would have received Whatsapp forward messages like “You are not your name. Your identity is what you do” Have you asked anybody recently about what they do and how many times have you heard something unique or not mainstream?

But the good thing is, we don’t have to worry about all these things right now. Mr. Wozniak had said something about India and now the duty of the nation is to get offended. We could at least get creative at getting offended. It is as boring as USA’s response to gun violence.


  1. Divya

    “They do all of that and do something else to bring food to the table” I both agree and disagree with this statement at the same time. This is true for people of our generation and those older than us. However, my students are not like this. They do not want to do things that they do not like – turn down high paying job to take a break and travel and I find that their parents fully support them.

    1. Post

      I am really glad that you said this. Because you are in the field and you see it first hand. However, these are people who got a chance to explore NIFT right? There are so many people slogging in some engineering college when they should have been having fun creating something new in NIFT. That is what I am talking about.

  2. Shri Abirami Jayaraman

    Being an artist myself, I have been trying to brainstorm it rather rootcause on the tendencies that make us feel so incomplete (incompetent) in at art. Largely, it’s because we have not learnt well to enjoy the process – the learning process in particular. It’s sheet joy to those who have patience to seek the aesthetic soul of an artwork or at as such. To others, it’s a rat race. Well written but the distress is definitely disturbing.

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